Queen Victoria: The Essential Melbourne Market Experience
Melbourne’s market culture is obviously very much alive and, in the case of Queen Victoria Market, has been since the 1870s.
Food stalls to try: Börek; Bratwurst Shop & Co.; American Doughnut Kitchen; Gozleme Turkish Café; Le Croissant des Halles; Pizza by Nature; La Cantina; Sushi Kissaten; Pide Bread Bakery; Spanish Donut Van.
This appeared in the May 2014 issue.
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Wednesday Night Market at Queen Vic
The Queen Victoria Market is a staple in Melbourne, boasting a history over a century old. Regular 'trading hours' takes place five days a week; and within its two city blocks offers shoppers everything from produce to cosmetics. But on Wednesday nights - a day when the market is normally closed- Queen Vic opens for its night market exposing a different side of itself - young, foodie, international and slightly bohemian. I happened to experience the night market during its Summer Season (Nov - March). You will find great jewelry stalls: some hawking healing crystals other presenting craftily repurposed items, such as a set of cuff links make from a disposed MacBook Pro keyboard. Apple + S for a unique gift idea. Another stall donned hats to suit your on trend fashion needs, while another sold Brazilian Seed Pod hats for the guy who just really doesn't want to fit in. I bought a few trinkets as holiday gifts, including locally handmade goats milk soap. The biggest fun is bouncing from stall to stall while sipping on a a festive cocktail. And because it's after 5p, it's totally acceptable to do a bit of holiday shopping with a red sangria in hand. There was live music towards the back of the market but I didn't make it that far. I also didn't have the appetite to sample any one of the over 60 food vendors also present. But always one with room for a bite of dessert, I finished the night with a taste of a salted caramel donut hole. Beautiful!
The Queens Victoria Markets, or just ‘the Vic Markets’, attracts thousands of tourists every year to its 600+ stallholders. But it’s also a regular shopping haunt for locals after fresh produce and well priced speciality foods. It is where I like to do my weekly food shop – buying fruit and vegetables in the organics section (try Garden Organics and VicMarket Organics), fantastic local and European cheeses from the friendly staff at Curds and Whey and fresh bread and pastries from a range of artisan bakers stocked at the Herbert Adams stall.
Given the level of choice, the crowds and the insistent calls of stallholders competing with their neighbours, it is easy to get a bit overwhelmed at the markets. They are open in the mornings and early afternoon 5 days a week (closed Mondays and Wednesdays). For shoppers, Tuesday afternoons are the best time to go because it is quiet and stallholders discount goods because they don’t want to hold stock over until Thursday. On Sundays there’s more T-shirts and trashy gadgets for tourists and less fruit and vegetable stalls, but on the upside there are also additional food stalls selling hot lunches and snacks in the middle street section of the markets. Some stalls will haggle on prices with you and others definitely won’t, but the prices are so competitive that I don’t normally bother. However, if you want to buy a big amount of something (e.g. a tray of mangoes when they are in season) then it is worth asking for a better price.
This beloved Melbourne institution is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere, where more than 600 retailers hawk everything from fruit and vegetables to clothing, jewelry and handicrafts. The stunning Art Deco food hall is overflowing with cheese, dips and pâtés, while specialty shops sell everything from kangaroo biltong to fresh pasta. Come for the atmosphere and you’ll be sure to leave with a full stomach and bulging shopping bags.